Read Part One here.
Read Part Two here.
Read Part Three here.
Airship Ambassador: What are some memorable fan reactions to The Jupiter Chronicles which you’ve heard about?
Leonardo Ramirez: There are two that stand out. The first one is from the young daughter of a Nashville Mom Blog called Family Focus. Scarlett has a HUGE audience that run in the thousands. Her daughter, Sierra, recorded a review of the second book, The Ice Orphan of Ganymede that melted my heart. The second one was someone who hadn’t read the book yet. She was a bit older (I’m finding that older audiences are enjoying too) and someone that I had met at Memphis Comic Con. When I told her about one of the reasons I wrote the series with regard to growing up in a single-parent family, she opened up about her experiences. That entire weekend was worth meeting her.
AA: I’m sure there are plenty more stories from your readers about how the books have impacted them and their lives. Hopefully you’ll hear from more of them. What kind of attention has The Jupiter Chronicles generated?
LR: This attention has come mostly from fans of comics and SciFi as well as moms looking for a fun read for their kids. A ton of mom blogs (Family Focus, A Mom’s Point of View, etc.) have featured the books as have a few geek sites like SciFi Pulse, Nerd Reactor and others. I get a huge amount of support from those communities. The Steampunk community has been a tough sell but I’m hoping that with this interview they will jump on board as well. I am so grateful to Airship Ambassador for this interview.
AA: You know how powerful Moms can be (Hi Mom 🙂 ) How are new readers finding you – conventions, website, word of mouth, etc?
LR: I have a website where you can download free sample chapters if you sign up for my blog. You can find it at http://Leonardoverse.com. There are some conventions that I visit such as GMX, Memphis Comic Con and next year I’ll be adding Tampa Bay Comic Con and perhaps more. Most readers find me on SciFi and mom blogs.
AA: For the aspiring writer, what lessons did you learn about having an agent and editor, their feedback, and your writing?
LR: As far as receiving feedback goes, try your best not to take it personally. As writers, we should never stop growing and learning. If someone is just being ugly, don’t respond. Having said that, be wise about where you accept feedback into your psyche. The best type of people that I have been able to learn from are those with a humble heart who genuinely care about your work. It is possible to be kind, frank and constructive at the same time. Make sure it’s someone who wants to see your work succeed. The same goes for an editor. I’ve had editors who have worked on one of my projects and their mind was not on the work at hand. Once it was someone whose personal life bled into their work. It was a horrible disaster and I ended up having to hire someone else even after that person had been paid hundreds. Find someone who is going to be in that moment when they’re editing your work.
AA: Expensive lessons, sometimes. What do you do to keep a balance between writing and the rest of your life?
LR: My family comes first so if there’s something that they need me for that is important to them that’s where my priority should be. At the same time, they are INCREDIBLY supportive. I can pretty much go anywhere and work a late as I need to, knowing that they are supportive of me. At the same time, they have an assurance that if they need me, I am there for them.
AA: Do you get to talk much with other writers and artists to compare notes, have constructive critique reviews, and brainstorm new ideas?
LR: Yes! When I first started writing many years ago, it was tough to find folks who derived joy from keeping things focused on the work instead of themselves and their ego. I am very picky about who I share with. But now, thank goodness, that has changed! There’s one friendship in particular who I run ideas by. He was a contributor to SciFi Pulse Magazine and has a doctorate in American Studies. Nicholas Yanes is someone I can rely on for feedback. As I mentioned before, my wife is a Children’s Librarian so I like to run things by her as well.
AA: Some people might say that writers need to be readers, too. What do you think about that and what would you say your ratio of reading to writing is/was?
LR: I agree but it’s a hard balance when you have so much going on with family, life, etc. Don’t get me wrong, I believe it is helpful but I don’t judge someone (not that we should at all) when life gets in the way of reading the latest. I had read Shakespeare years back and recently have felt compelled to verse myself with some of the classics. I’m now reading Moby Dick. As a writer you can learn a lot from other writers.
AA: Shakespeare is always a useful classic to know. As a reader, what has made you stop reading something before finishing it? How do you try to avoid that issue in your own writing?
LR: As much as I love to delve into what makes characters tick, I love action. I love machines that fly, explode and shoot back. I believe in setting the stage but if there is too much of an explanation of something that can be easily inferred then I lose interest. That easily translates into my writing. If I’m bored with it, others will be as well.
AA: What do you consider your first real writing experience? Was it the back-to-school exercise of “What I did this Summer” or something you just did on your own?
LR: It was my first year of college and my professor had given us a short-story writing assignment. She had the highest of standards so I was very intimidated by her. I remember turning in my short story on a Thursday and sweating bullets the entire weekend. When I got my assignment back she had given me and ‘A’ and written some very nice comments on it. I was on fire from that moment on. After this, I went on to write my first book…all by hand. I couldn’t afford a computer at the time so I wrote an entire fantasy novel by hand in a notebook.
AA: That’s some dedication to write it all by hand, although easier in some ways to make edits. Well, if you wrote it in pencil. How have you and your work grown and changed over time?
LR: With so much going on in life I’ve had to strengthen my will and focus and learn to say no. I love helping people but that has sometimes gotten in the way of my passion which is writing. I’m starting to taper back on the things that take me away from it and the voice of my work has been so much more in tune as of late that I’m excited about what the future may bring.
We’ll pause her in chatting with Leonardo. Join us next time when he talks about skills and opportunities
You can support Leonardo and our community by getting your copy of The Jupiter Chronicles here.